The exercise of running…

First I want to make my apologies for not posting last month. I’ve been kind of busy with a new hobby that seems to dominate more and more of my time. don’t promised myself 12 blog posts this year; I guess I don’t need to make them all at once.

A few of my friends already know that I’ve just started running. What a lot of you may not have known is that running is not my choice of recreational activities. I would much rather be; off-roading in my Jeep, fishing, playing softball, mowing the lawn, well you get the idea. A dear friend of mine started a “Run for God” class and my wife and I wanted to support her. For those of you who don’t know what a “Run for God” class is a couch to 5k challenge that is not just running but faith based as well. If you want more information about this program, click on this link .

The first time that our friend taught the class; my wife and I talked about it and my wife didn’t want to run with me. Understandable since I’m nearly a foot taller than my wife. Still I didn’t get a chance to run but I did get to witness the transformation in my wife both physically and spiritually. She started leaving little phrases around the house such as “Run your own race” and “If God calls you to do something, he will give you the strength”. All of these words were encouraging and positive and ultimately were very helpful while training for a race. The big day came and it was time to run “Vern’s No Frills 5K”. Vern’s No Frills 5K is just what it sounds like, a 5k with no frills and a price to match! Free to students K-12 and $1 for adults.

I woke the kids up and we went out on a chilly early morning to watch Mom as she ran the big race. We were ready too I made a large sign the night before; the kids had clappers from the dollar store.

Samantha - Verns 5k

We even set ourselves up so that she would come past our location twice! We had no idea how she would do, but I had faith that she would get out there and run the best race she could run. For those of you who know my wife; she has, how shall I say this delicately, a very healthy sense of competition?! She ran faster and harder than she ever did and came away from that race feeling really accomplished. Our entire family was really proud of her for her accomplishment! Like all of the other competitors she came away with a metal and a sense of pride for running the entire race. Heck, I wanted to get a shadow box frame and place all of her things in it, and put it up on the mantle.

I know, I know, all you folks who have run long distances before are all like, “He wanted to do all that for a 5K?” Yes, yes I did. You see, in the before times, no-one would describe our family as athletic. We were foodies and we still are. We love the smell, the art, the sport of cooking. Our favorite television shows (when we still had cable) were on the Food Network. Unfortunately, over time we lost our sense of eating a proper portion. Forgetting what it felt like to be “not hungry” instead of “full” or “stuffed”. I could blame culture, or television, high fructose corn syrup, etc. Ultimately, the failing was mine and mine alone.

We were overweight and I knew it. One night, I stepped on the Wii Fit scale and it said “Obese” in that tiny little happy yet annoying voice. Expletive! I really am obese aren’t I? (Sad Face)

My wife decided that it was time for use to lose some weight. She had done diet plans before and they all worked as long as you were on the diet. It never worked for me because the minute you tell me that I can’t have something, that something is all I want. My wife decided to join Weight Watchers for a lifestyle change last year. After about two weeks she challenged me to join and see who could lose weight faster. “Challenge Accepted!” I’ll deal with all of the details on that in another blog post. I digress.

Now her class ended and I’m doing the “Run for God” class with my 5K due on April 20th and 8:00 in the morning. I joined the class to support a friend, learn how to run, and further my weight loss goal. Over time I found that a subtle transformation had occurred. I find myself actually looking forward to the challenge of running the 5K. I’m actually looking forward to pushing myself to see how quickly I can get around the track.

WHAT?!?! How did this happen?

I am sure that it is only through the power of Jesus that this change could have occurred. I didn’t know what I was doing and I am so thankful for my running instructor. My wife and I shared the “Run for God” book and show I got to see all of her answers scrolled in the book before me. Most of her answers were serious, but some of them were downright silly. Kind of nice, I felt as if I was getting to peek into her diary. I won’t share what she wrote because she asked me not to. They will be my little literary treasures to read.

I wrote my notes in the margins and filled in the answers for the questions on the weeks that she missed class. I read the devotionals and tried desperately to take the time in thoughtful prayer to contemplate the words I was reading and not just check them off my list. That’s always the challenge isn’t it? The challenge is to read Gods word, and to contemplate the meaning of it. To go and have that conversation with God and listen to what he had to tell you.

Dear reader, at this point I’m going to walk you through my transformation during the running class. If you have no interest, then please push on. My goal is to illustrate the transformation as it occurred in me week by week. Who knows, you might just be entertained.

The week one workout was very simple. It was a brisk 5 minute warmup walk and then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for 20 minutes. I thought, “No problem. I got this!” Yes I did say that to myself in the George Lopez voice. I went out and ran my first interval without too much effort. About the third interval, I was completely out of breath. I just could not breathe at all. To be more accurate I was doing a lot of breathing, I was hyperventilating. In fact I’ll share my note after the first week “Research Breathing!!” I came in after my first run, simply amazed that I performed so badly. My wife asked me how I did, as I was walking out the door to head to work. I would simply respond, “Running Sucks. Have a good day sweetheart.”

The next week was a longer interval, 90 seconds jogging, 2 minutes of walking for 20 minutes. I could not run all of the intervals that I was supposed to run. This was not good for my increasingly fragile male ego. After every run my wife would ask me the same question and I would give here the same response.

Week three did not greet me with any more promise. I learned about foot pronation, arch support, lacing my shoes a certain way, etc. I learned more about the mechanics of running and what type of shoe that I should be wearing. Lucky for me the shoes that I had purchased on my own would see me through the class before needing replaced. The workout is for this week was a repeat of week two so I was actually able to catch up and run each interval. Still I would come home and announce that running sucked, have a nice day, then off to work.

Things did start to change for me though. I couldn’t see it at the time, but I took on a running partner. He is younger and MUCH faster than I am. I didn’t know it at the time, but my competitive nature along with his good nature and God’s grace allowed me to push harder that I had before. My running partner taught me about the concept of putting “Hay in the Barn” instead of trying to run a race every single time I went out.

Week 4’s workout was a 90 second run, 90 second walk, 3 minute run, 3 minute walk and then repeat once and cool down. I shorted my response to “Running still sucks, love you.”

Week 5 and the workout has increased again to 3 minute run, 90 second walk, 5 minute jog, 2 minute walk for 34 minutes. I’m really starting to get discouraged at this point. I can’t run all the intervals from last week and now we are increasing again! What makes it worse is that we have a private Facebook page for our class, and it feels like NO ONE is posting their difficulties except for me. Now I’m feeling discouraged and alone because in my mind, if they are not posting, they are not having any issues.

Week 6, same running schedule as last week, halleluiah! Now I can try to catch up. My running partner assures me that I am getting better, I don’t see it. I’m almost able to run all of the intervals at this point so I’m just starting to feel good about myself again.

Week 7, first workout same as weeks 5 and 6, but then my next two workouts are running for 8 minutes, walking for 5 minutes, and then running for 8 minutes again. What a smack in the face. I can’t run the intervals, AGAIN. I am really thankful for the kind words of my running partner now. I really need those kind words now to keep me going and not quit.

Week 8, I don’t have any kind words to describe the first run that I’m willing to put into this blog entry. This week is a 5 minute warm-up, 20 minute run, and 5 minute cool-down. I’m thinking that it is a huge jump in the workouts. True, it’s only 4 more minutes of running, but there is no break in the middle. However, instead of getting pummeled on my first run, something strange happened. I actually did it. I ran the full 20 minutes. I came home hooting and hollering up a storm. Since I normally run at 5:45 in the morning, I’m sorry neighbors. I started to think that I might be able to do this after all.

Week 9, after the warm-up there is a 23 minute run, and then cool-down. Something did happen to me. I’m becoming transformed into something with some small amount of meager athleticism. I’m no longer afraid to run anymore. This was the first run that I did with the class and we ran around town. It would be my 4th workout for the week. I didn’t know how I would measure up against my peers. I prayed to God to just not let me fall on my face or fail. I knew my ego couldn’t take it. God seems to agree because he put me out there and kept me going strong to the finish line. He even allowed me to encourage others out there to go further!

Week 10, the running has increased to 27 minutes. The weather has not been cooperating with me but I’m still getting those runs in when I can. The colder it is, the worse I do. I have breathing problems when it’s cold, my lungs hurt pretty badly.

I’ve even inspired my son to start training to run. I am starting him off running the basics of the Run for God class. He is doing it with the neighbor girl and I think I will enter him in the Georgetown Dam Mile race if they have it this year. If not, I will find him something to race for him.
At the time of this writing I have 15 days left.

OK, maybe I’m starting to get a little excited. I can’t believe it. It’s actually feeling good to run. I crave it when I can’t run due to weather. I’ve been bitten by the running bug. I’m ready to run this race. I know I can do it. I am excited because I actually have the athletic ability to run for 3.2 miles.

Now when I leave the house I say to my wife, “Run was good, I love you. See you tonight”


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